Thursday, January 28, 2010

We're Number One!

OK fine, we're not #1, but we are just 67 miles or an hour drive from the #1 Beer Store

(another article on the subject)

It's just a hair north of us in Youngstown, Ohio, but it might as well be in Pittsburgh.  Youngstown, for a long time now has been asymilated into Southwestern PA.  It's as much a part of Pittsburgh as Cranberry or Uniontown or WashPA.  In my travels I've actually met other people who have said they were from Pittsburgh, and when I ask them what part, they respond "Youngstown."  I even have a coworker who commutes every day to work from Youngstown to Monroeville.

Youngstown and Steubenville are like two bastard cities Ohio never really wanted.  Youngstown had mob problems and Steubenville just kind of sucked.  And don't let Steubenville try to fool you otherwise.  They're like the scrawny, hairlipped, humbacked orphan that nobody ever wanted to adopt. 

Years ago, when Pittsburgh was drawing up the official papers to adopt Youngstown, Ohio tried to pawn off Steubenville on us at the same time.  "It's a package deal.  The two get along so well and we'd hate to separate the two of them."

Fortunately Sophie Masloff was too smart for such a ploy.  So we Pittsburghers took Youngstown under our wing as one of our own, and it's been a pleasant relationship ever since.  Of course that hasn't stopped Steubenville from attempting to get it's parasitic little tentacles on Pittsburgh.  They broke free from Ohio about 10 years ago and started calling themselves, and all of Jefferson County Ohio, "The Burb of the Burg."

Yes, they are that Ghetto.  True, at only 36 miles away from Downtown Pittsburgh, they are almost twice as close as Youngstown.  But just because the kitchen sink is twice as close as the toilet to the living room doesn't mean you use it instead.  Twice as close?  Is that even proper english?   See, Steubenville sucks so much donkey balls, they are only worth insulting with gramatically incorrect idioms.

Now that I've gotten that little tirade off my chest, wasn't there something about alcohol I was supposed to be talking about.  Yes, back to Youngstown and the Number 1 Beer Store in the World, Vintage Estate Wine and Beer.  That's right.  They are the number one beer retailer in the World according to's 2010 awards. At over 800 craft beers and 1000 plus types of wine, there is little in my mind to deter me from just driving up there in the middle of this snow storm we are in and setting up my own little tent city in their parking lot.  I'll bring the kielbasa and the carcoal grill and will simply just venture into the store if I need more to drink or to use the bathroom.  That is unless there is a sink that's close by.

Now that I've heard of the place, I'm sure I'll be making my way up there at some point to sample their selection.  If you're in the area in late April, the store plans on hosting a massive beer festival called The Big Tap In.  I may just have to go.

And the owners live in New Castle, PA, so yinz can consider the as locals as well.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I wasn't looking too good but I was feeling real well

Bored waiting for a Windows update to install on someone's computer, I opened a browser and sought to entertain myself in a manner that was more-or-less safe for work.  Then I came across a headline that made my heart sink: after decades of making every other drinker on the planet look like a fucking lightweight, Keith Richards is on the wagon!

There's been a lot of trouble lately with The Stones other guitarist Ronnie Wood ditching his wife for a young Russian "waitress" and proceeding to generally wreck everything in his life by drinking alcohol faster than the maximum output of Seagram's.  Rumors were The Stones were going to tour again soon.  They have now officially said that is not the case, and speculation is it's because the insurance company won't insure the tour with Ronnie's drinking problem.  Why is that the speculation?  Because it's happened before. 

Ronnie has thrown his life into such disarray with his drinking, that it has allegedly scared Keith and he quit drinking completely.  He says he's been dry for a few months now.  Seriously, how fucking bad is your substance abuse problem when Keith fucking Richards says "Holy shit, dude, you need to slow down!"?

I find this news kind of sad.  Not just because things are falling apart for Ronnie, but that Keith has gone straight.  Why?  Well, I'm kind of working on that question myself.  Maybe because Keef is a symbol of responsible irresponsibility.  He always appeared to ride things on the ragged edge, but he always pulled through somehow.  He indulged in whatever he desired, but never to the point that things completely fell apart.  Personally, I've always felt abstinence was a sign of weakness.  You need to eliminate temptation from your life because you can't be trusted to keep your shit together.

But now he's not that symbol, and that makes me sad inside.  Not that I thought of him as a role model.  Fuck no!  I mean, you're a cool guy, Keef, and it would be awesome to meet you; but I think it would be folly on a grand scale for someone to pattern their life after you.  Still, it somehow seems like a little sliver of fun and freedom just left the world.  A good friend of Keith's once rhetorically asked "Where were you when the fun died?"  Well, I guess I was installing Windows 7 on some dude's computer at work.

Still, one gets the sneaking suspicion that Keef is mainly doing this to try to encourage Ronnie to get his shit together.  And that is highly commendable.  Think about it for a minute.  How much would you give up to help a friend?  Would you quit your favorite habit or passtime?  Would you quit smoking, or watching football, or whacking it to bestiality porn while your wife is in the shower?  More to the point, would I give up alcohol if Richard Dicks or M. Randolph was acting like Ronnie?

I'd tell them I did. 


Monday, January 18, 2010

God's Cube

Not a video, but I suppose it kind of counts for a Monday Hangover:

Cute, but really... iced cube?  I thought they were ice cubes.  I dunno, people from Ohio are fucking weird.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This Day in Booze: Judgement Day

No, this is not a prediction into the future. The World will not end on this day in the year 2000-and-who-gives-a-rat's-ass. Nor am I the Governor of California running naked through the streets punching holes in peoples chests.

I'm writing to you because this day was probably the darkest day in the history of the American Alcoholic. Today began the days of Prohibition.

It was on January 16th 1919 the U.S. Congress Ratified the 18th Ammendment. The bill was to take effect exactly one year later on this same day, 1920. What would follow was 13 years of sobriety, bootlegging, organized crime, smuggling, rum running, speakeasies, moonshining, violence... ...actually that sounds kind of fun. Well, everything except fo the sobriety part. Because gunning down treasury agents just isn't the same without a flask of bathtub gin to enjoy while doing it.

And that is about all I have. I've nearly exhausted the subject on prohibition in many past posts, which you can check out.

The 21st Amendment

I know it's kind of a let down as this should be the big one. But I'm not feeling up to it. The truth is, if you read yesterday's post, I kind of went out for that one last drink last night. And that last drink led to another drink, which led to another drink, whiche led to another, which led to homoerotic flirtation with B James and McPaddy, which led to a busted lip and me washing the urine off the side of my car this morning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

This Day in Booze: One Last Drink

January 15th 1920. Last day for a legal drink in the United States before nearly 13 years of sobriety. Raise a glass to those poor souls who had to endure it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beer Swap: Part 2

I hope everyone had a happy New Year. Mine was good. McPaddy and his wife threw on a great spread with much food and booze.

Over the past few days I've taken some time to sample more of the beer from my Christmas Beer Swap. Figured I'd continue to share my opinion with you and see if anyone else has anything to share about these particular beers.

Here is a quick recap of that which has been sampled already. If you don't agree with me on something let me know, because I can be fairly blunt. I know what tastes good and I know when someone is trying to pawn of shit by riding a reputable name. Which leads me into my first review from last week. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was nothing but hops water with red food coloring. Despise this obvious fact, it seems to be in everyone's list as one of the top Winter/Chrsitmas beers (blunt enough for you?). Clipper City Brewing Winter Storm "Cetegory 5 Ale", being an Imperial ESB, was an attempt to be a little different from most of the other winter brews out there. I appreciate the effort, but don't think they quite succeeded. I think this beer could be much better if they really put some effort into it. It was good enough for me to call it a typical seasonal beer. Sitting at the top of my seasonal list, I reviewed the Anderson Valley Winter Solistice. I was thoroughly impressed. Expecting another dark chololately beer with tons of hops, like most other christmas beers, this was deep and rich but well balanced. I love the proprietary blend of holiday spices, the balance between the hops and malts, and the smooth caramel finish.

This time around I've got three new beers to review.

The first beer isn't exactly a seasonal beer, but that's one of the great things about beer swaps, the unexpected. The beer was a Strawberry Wheat Beer by Lancaster Brewing Company. The only wheat beer in the case, I wasn't expecting great things when I popped open the bottle. Perhaps it was the description on the beer label that said "Wheat Beer with Strawberry Flavor Added". That's right. They brewed a wheat beer and then added strawberry flavoring to it after the fact. Truth be told, it wasn't terrible tasting, but it was kind of bland and weak in flavor. This wasn't a surprise, since wheat beers typically are more mild in taste, with the true nuances coming out usually in citrus or banana flavors. But this isn't one of those beers. It's perfectly drinkable and the strawberry flavor they added was just enough to give it a light fruity sweetness (perhaps too tart). But I don't think I'll be buying anymore of it.

Magic Hat Howl. Eh...It didn't exactly live up to my expectations for something from Magic Hat. As expected it had the aroma and flavor of roasted and chacolate malts. It isn't an ale, like most winter beers, but a dark german lager (schwarzbier). So it's a heavy beer but lighter in flavor. I think the hops pairing was off on this one. For the style of beer, I think their choice of hops is too overpowering. Not that it had too much hops. On the contrary, it had about the amount of hops I typically like in a dark seasonal brew. However, The hops they choose masked the true flavor of the beer itself. M. Randolph might be able to provide more insite into this since he is the most qualified.

Lastly is Erie Brewing's 'Ol Red Cease and Desist. I'm not entirely sure if I like this one or not yet. I hate to give a review prematurely, but I just can't get my mouth wrapped around this one. Yes I've set myself up perfectly for your homo-erotic comments. That's OK. If you're commenting it at least means somebody out there is reading this crap. Back to the beer. At over 10% ABV it definetly fits in with the spirit of a winter beer. It's a nice deep DEEP red scottish ale, though some years the bottle apparently says "wee heavy" instead. Same thing (prepared for the backlash). It has some of the standard characteristics a would assume with this type of beer. A mouth full of caramel malt on the front end with some fruitiness as well. But something just seemed off. I can't tell if it was the bitterness. In my quest to get a grasp of it I research a little to see what other people thought. One person on beeradvocate might of touched on it when he said the beer was "considerably metallic, like licking stainless steel." I'm not sure if I'd go that far. But there definitely seems to be something there. I'll guess I'll just have to suck it up and crack open the other two bottles at some point to delve deeper into the mystery of 'Ol Red. I'll try to give a followup when I do my next round of reviews.

All-in-all the Anderson Valley is still at the top of my list.